WASHINGTON – Andrew Duck isn’t worried about the 6th District Democratic primary — he’s been there before.
The 20-year Army veteran is already looking forward to a rematch against Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, in November, even though he’s competing with four other Democrats Tuesday for the party’s nomination.
“I’m trying to focus on Roscoe Bartlett,” Duck said. “I’m not focused on Jennifer Dougherty,” the former Frederick mayor who’s the nearest to Duck in campaign funds.
Duck, Dougherty and Robin Deibert are the only three Democratic candidates whose campaigns have taken in enough money to file reports with the Federal Election Commission. While Duck has collected more than twice as much money as Dougherty and Deibert combined, they’re by no means willing to quit — each of them wants a shot at the Bartlett.
Dougherty, 47, said Duck isn’t up to the task of knocking off Bartlett in the general election. His experience in the military just doesn’t match up to hers as mayor, she said.
“From a practical standpoint, my experience is the only experience out there,” she said. “The others only have experience working for the government or government contractors and I really don’t see that as the best experience.”
While mayor of Frederick, she said she has experience reaching across the aisle to get things done in a bipartisan manner. Today, she owns Jennifer’s Restaurant in Frederick and works as a Realtor.
The FEC reports that as of Jan. 23, she had collected close to $19,000 for her campaign.
“Having been through a general election, those unaffiliated voters want someone with experience on both sides of the aisle, who’s balanced a budget,” Dougherty said.
Deibert, a 41-year-old business systems analyst from Hagerstown, said her experience in many different areas makes her the best candidate. While Dougherty’s experience in politics may be of some importance, Deibert said her experience in the military, health care and information technology has made her more wise to the world.
“Being a congressman takes more than just one skill,” Deibert said. “You have to be able to build a consensus.”
As of Jan. 23, Deibert collected about $12,000 this campaign cycle, and loaned her campaign $10,000.
Both Duck and Deibert said they thought Dougherty’s exit from the Frederick mayor’s office was particularly telling of her appeal to voters: She failed to win the Democratic primary as an incumbent.
“I think that it shows that a lot of people thought she wasn’t building those consensuses, that she said she wasn’t moving things in the way that people wanted them to move,” Deibert said.
Though Duck says he’s not focused on the primary, he’s still managed to spend more than $76,000 this election cycle, which he said mostly is an investment in the general election.
“That’s money we’re spending on Bartlett,” Duck said. “That’s money we’re spending because we understand it takes time to get out the vote.”
Duck, 45, started his campaign against Bartlett for the 2006 election, and hasn’t stopped since. He speaks often of his military record, which includes time spent in Iraq, Bosnia and Kuwait. Today, he works in the office of the as an adviser to the Pentagon on Army intelligence issues.
The name identification Duck has gained from his time campaigning makes him the front-runner in this year’s primary, according to Frostburg State University instructor Tim Magrath.
“A lot of people vote on recognition of name, and Andrew Duck is coming in on wide name recognition,” Magrath said.
But in the end, what will matter is who best can take on Bartlett in November, said Magrath, who worked for former U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.
“More than anything, the Democratic candidate has to make a case against the incumbent,” Magrath said.
As for Bartlett, he faces four challengers in the Republican primary on Tuesday — Tom Croft, John Kimble, Frank Nethken and Joseph Krysztoforski, but none of them have collected enough money to file reports with the Federal Election Commission. The minimum to file is $5,000.
Bartlett has taken in about $460,000 since the election cycle began, giving him a comfortable lead in cash over his competitors. Nevertheless, he said he doesn’t like to make assumptions about the outcome of an election.
“We run every race as if we’re 20 points behind,” Bartlett said. “If you run as if you’re 20 points behind, you probably won’t be.”